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Max Pashm Never Mind The Balkans Here's Max Pashm Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Pashm now claims to brew up a dose of ''KlezmerBalkanGreekGypsyPunk with Electro Beats''

Garth Cartwright 2008

Max Pashm released his debut album, Weddings, Bar-Mitzvahs & Funerals, in 1997, mixing dance beats and samples from ethnic musics. The album was an underground hit and saw Pashm go on to work with Nitin Sawhney and The Levellers. More than a decade on and Max is back and trying to reclaim lost ground: mixing dance beats with Balkan brass samples is big business these days.

Mimicking The Sex Pistols' album title and cover, Pashm now claims to brew up a dose of ''KlezmerBalkanGreekGypsyPunk with Electro Beats'' which is to say he wants to win over the Shantel and Gogol Bordello fans. What he has done is create a soundscape of sorts, relying on a number of Brighton-based musicians who lay rich instrumental and vocal textures over his beats. There's some tasty horn arrangements and fine strings – bouzouki and lyra – and the album jogs along at a decent pace.

Where things fall apart are Pashm's limited vocals and a sense of déjà vu – Max may have tried something akin to Balkan Beats in the late-90s but what he offers here feels very second hand, cribbed off the big players in the Western-musicians-create-Balkan-bubblegum. Stripping away the novelty aspect (electronic beats and slogans) and developing some of the ideas here into Morricone-style soundscapes would probably be more effective – there's some great instrumental work and engaging melodies.

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